US 7042716 B2
A hinged computer case that can be mounted to the underside of a desk surface directly in front of and hidden from its user and accommodates the ergonomic requirements of the user is described. All peripheral devices meant for user access are located in a flat drive bay, which also forms an adjustable keyboard tray, while the non-access devices are located in a CPU enclosure. In the stow-away position, the computer case hangs from a pair of guide rails with the cable connectors facing up, for easy installation. In the operational position, the computer case pivots 90° and slides on the guide rails. The flat drive bay that supports the keyboard tray s pivotally attached to the CPU enclosure by means of a cable hinge assembly. The hinge assembly enables positioning of the keyboard at a suitable angle for a respective user, and also accommodates the cables between the two enclosures. Media drives needed for upgrades can be added to the sides of the flat drive bay, and they may be used to provide a mouse pad, or/and additional work-space.
1. A pull-out computer housing for enabling easy installation and ergonomic positioning of a computer system units and controls, comprising:
a central processing unit (CPU) enclosure for housing all standard units of the computer system;
a flat drive bay with a flat top for housing all accessible units of said computer system and for supporting a computer keyboard; and
a hinge assembly provided between said CPU enclosure and said flat drive bay for enabling adjustment of the flat top to a preferred angle and a preferred elevation.
2. The computer housing of
a CPU body formed of a left and a right wall, a back and a front enclosure wall, an enclosure base and an enclosure cover;
a first opening in said front wall for providing a passage for the cables connecting said standard units with said accessible units;
a right and a left hemmed ledge formed on a respectively top side of said left and right walls; and
a first and a second top hemmed ledge formed on a respective right and left side of said enclosure cover,
wherein said right hemmed ledge and said first hemmed ledge form a right tongue and said left hemmed ledge and said second hemmed ledge form a left tongue, for enabling displacement of said CPU enclosure on a guide rail system.
3. The computer housing of
4. The computer housing of
5. The computer housing of
a bay frame for forming a central bay and two side bays, each bay for holding one of said accessible units;
a bottom support mounted on said frame for holding said accessible units; and
a top cover for mounting on said frame to provide said flat top.
6. The computer housing of
7. The computer housing of
8. The computer housing of
9. The computer housing of
an outside bay base for holding a respective accessible unit and accommodating a cable for connecting said accessible unit to said standard units;
an outside drive bay cover for mounting on said outside base to provide a flat surface for accommodating a computer mouse; and
and access cover for enabling access to said cable.
10. The computer housing of
a base for mounting on a front enclosure wall of said CPU enclosure, said base having a second opening; and
a hollow hinge fixed on said base for rotatably attaching said base to said bay frame,
wherein said first opening covers said second opening for enabling routing of said cables from said standard units to said respective accessible units through said first and second opening and through said hollow hinge.
11. The computer housing of
12. The computer housing of
13. The computer housing of
a hollow hinge mounted on a front enclosure wall of said CPU enclosure and on the frame of said flat drive bay for enabling rotation of said flat drive bay between a pull-up position and a maintenance position; and
a pivot assembly for securing said flat drive bay to assume said preferred angle.
14. The computer housing of
15. The computer housing of
16. The computer housing of
17. The computer housing of
18. The computer housing of
19. The computer housing of
This application claims the benifit of Provisional application Ser. No. 60/502,763, filed Aug. 25, 2003.
This invention is directed to a personal computer case, particularly to an Ergonomic Pull-out Computer Housing.
Personal computer cases are generally found in two locations; either on the floor, where they can be knocked or bumped by the user's feet, or on the desktop, where they occupy valuable work surface. Although hardware manufacturers are gradually shrinking computer cases to address work space constraints, a smaller case size often means a limited number of components and a corresponding decrease in computer function. Laptop computers are an example of component reduction through advances in engineering and manufacturing, and this type of computer has limited performance due to inadequate cooling capability and space constraints. The laptop computer also, by definition, does not allow for correct ergonomic positioning. There is a need for an ergonomic pull-out computer case that addresses space constraints by utilizing the under-the-desk space in a typical work station, while still providing an expandable case using standard components.
Personal computer towers are often difficult to set up and they have the additional problem of inadequate cable management. With a traditional tower case, the user must climb under the desk in order to install the cables, and access to the tower is awkward. Computer towers are often located under the desk, where the user's feet should be. There is a need for an ergonomic pull-out computer case that addresses the need for easier set-up and more efficient attachment and organization of cables.
If a computer user is sitting in an ergonomically correct position, it is obvious that the space under and behind the keyboard tray is free to use. Since users are different heights and sizes, the keyboard should be adjustable in order to create an ergonomic workstation. The user should have easy access to computer controls and devices without any awkward reaching or stretching. There is a need for an ergonomic pull-out computer that allows the user to adjust his position and still have access to computer controls and devices.
Ergonomics is the improvement of human performance through careful design of the work environment. Working at the computer in an awkward or unnatural position can result in repetitive strain injuries, costing employers, insurers and workers millions of dollars in lost productivity and rehabilitation every year. The generally-accepted ergonomic position for computer use is with the user sitting squarely at the desk, with legs bent at 90°, arms, bent at 90°, the keyboard slightly below elbow height and the wrists level. Most computer workstations require the addition of ergonomic equipment such as adjustable keyboard trays and mouse trays, however the ergonomic pull-out computer of the invention addresses the need for an individual workstation without expensive add-ons.
Computer cases should be manufactured of metal to prevent electromagnetic energy from entering or exiting the case. Electromagnetic energy can cause static inference with other electronic devices around it. An electromagnetic seal is created by ensuring that all sides of the enclosure firmly contact one other so that a ground current can flow between them and block electromagnetic waves. The smaller the gaps between contact points of enclosure walls or cut-outs, the less chance there is of electro-magnetic energy escaping. Therefore a computer housing must be designed with a view to minimizing electromagnetic energy leakage.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,099,094 (Lior) describes a mounting arrangement for computers. One of the problems with Lior's solution is the position of the keyboard with respect to the access devices. Since keyboard tray is located below the access devices, the keyboard is too low for ergonomic positioning unless the desktop is considerably higher than average. If the keyboard tray is drawn up in front of the access devices, CDs or floppy disks cannot be inserted or removed. Another problem with Lior's arrangement is that the computer is fixed to the desk, making cable installation difficult. Even though the guide rails may allow the user to pull out the case far enough to install cables, it would require very long and bulky guides to support such cantilevered weight.
An object of the invention is to provide an ergonomic pull-out computer that alleviates totally or in part the drawbacks of the prior art mounting arrangements for computers.
Accordingly, the invention provides a pull-out computer housing for enabling easy installation and ergonomic positioning of a computer system units and controls, comprising: a central processing unit (CPU) enclosure for housing all standard units of the computer system; a flat drive bay with a flat top for housing all accessible units of the computer system and for supporting a computer keyboard; and a hinge assembly provided between the CPU enclosure and the flat drive bay for enabling adjustment of the flat top to a preferred angle and a preferred elevation.
The invention is also directed to a kit for facilitating easy installation and ergonomic positioning of a computer system on a desk, while enabling space saving and alternative uses of a computer desk, comprising: a guide rail system for mounting on the back of the desk top; a pull-out computer housing where conventional computer components are repartitioned into standard devices mounted in a CPU enclosure and user-accessible devices mounted in a flat drive bay; and a hinge assembly provided between the CPU enclosure and the flat drive bay for enabling adjustment of the flat drive bay to a preferred angle and a preferred elevation.
Advantageously, the mounting arrangement provided by the present invention results in simplification and consolidation of many aspects of a computer workstation environment. The computer housing is attached to the underside of a desk using a rail system so that the user can slide the computer under the desktop like a drawer when it is not in use. This enables alternative uses of the desk.
Another advantage of the invention is that it utilizes standard PC components, while repartitioning the conventional personal computer components into access and non-access devices. All peripheral devices meant for user access are located in a flat drive bay, which also forms an adjustable keyboard tray, while the standard (non-access) devices are located in a central processing unit (CPU) enclosure. This arrangement enables easy addition of drivers to the sides of the flat drive bay. The additional drivers may be needed for upgrades, and they may be used to provide a mouse pad, or/and additional work-space.
Another advantage of the invention is that the CPU enclosure and the flat drive bay (the keyboard tray) are connected by a hinge assembly that enables positioning of the keyboard at a suitable angle for a respective user, and also accommodates the cables between the two enclosures. The flat drive bay's angle can be fixed by tightening a screw mechanism on an adjustable strut. The CPU enclosure's pivoting hangers allow the user to hang the computer from its guide rails, with the rear cable ports facing up, for easy installation.
The following detailed description, given by way of example and not intended to limit the present invention solely thereto, will best be appreciated in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements and parts, where:
In the following, the terms rear, left, right and front are terms used with reference to the computer housing when mounted under a desk as shown in the drawings; these terms are not intended to limit the invention to embodiments of the computer housing mounted under a desk. It is also to be noted that not all elements of an assembly appear on a single view, cross-reference to-the appropriate Figures is made throughout the text.
As indicated above, the computer housing 10 uses standard PC components, while repartitioning the conventional personal computer components into user-accessible devices (i.e. devices meant for frequent user access) and standard devices. All electronic/electrical parts that are not normally accessed by the user are located in a CPU enclosure 20, and all media drives meant for user access are located in a flat drive bay 40, which also forms an adjustable keyboard tray. In the following, the term “standard units” refers to the electronic/electric units of the computer that are not normally accessed by the user. For example motherboard 11, hard drives 12, power supply 13 (see
Regularly accessed components such as CDROM drives, floppy drives, Zip drives, controls and user interface ports are kept together in the flat drive bay assembly 40. These units are referred to in the following as “accessible units”.
The ergonomic pull-out computer housing 10 is attached to the underside of a desk which has been removed for clarity in
Once the installer has attached the necessary power, network, monitor and optional cables to the rear of the case, with the housing 10 in the computer setup position, the housing can swing up 90° using a pivot assembly 80, described in connection with
A unique hollow cable hinge assembly allows the flat drive bay 40 to elevate and rotate with respect to the CPU enclosure, to place the housing from the hanging state into the operative state. The angular position of the flat drive bay may now be adjusted between a pull-down (or maintenance) position, where it makes a 90° degree angle with the CPU enclosure as seen in
In the maintenance position, since the flat drive bay is pulled-down, the operator has access to the cable connectors, indicators and controls, allowing cable installation, switching the computer on/off, and monitoring the operation of the computer. In the pull-up position, the top of the flat drive bay is used to hold a standard keyboard 2 (see
The cable hinge assembly 30 has a large hollow hinge 31 that extends preferably along the entire width of the enclosure, to allow standard I/O cables and power cables to pass protected from the CPU enclosure 20 to the flat drive bay 40. Because the cables are fully enclosed inside the hinge, they are protected from stretching, pinching and radiating energy even when the flat drive bay 40 is adjusted. The outer ends of the cable hinge opening 64 are plugged with metal EMC buttons (not shown) when outside drive bays are not assembled, described later.
The flat drive bay 40 preferably accommodates three main device drives, and therefore has three bays, as shown in the embodiment of
The device drivers are inserted in the bays from the front of the flat drive bay, and the cables a 16, 17, 18 reconnected as seen better in
Sturdy metal outside drive bay rails 47 and 48 are present on walls of flat drive bay 40 to allow further expansion of the computer system. An outside drive bay 60 seen in
Outside drive bay 60 is attached to bay 40 by sliding it from front to back into the guide rails 47 or 48 until the hollow hinge 31 of the cable hinge assembly 30 is aligned with the cable hinge opening 64 of the outside drive bay. Bays 60 can be outward mounted to either side of the flat drive bay 40, with their bottom surfaces aligned and the top surface raised suitably for a mouse pad. Mounting of the larger five-and-a-quarter inch bays in the outward position has the advantage of keeping the flat drive bay to a minimum height while maximizing the space below the bays for the user's knees.
A back enclosure wall 19 has expansion slots 29, fan assemblies, and cable connectors, which are also seen in
The routing of the cables from the CPU enclosure 20 to the cable hinge assembly 30 is depicted in
The hinge assembly 30 is preferably made of metal to function as a Faraday cage extension of the CPU enclosure while allowing an opening 14′ (also called the “second opening”) seen at the rear center of the cable hinge assembly.
Cables 16, 17 and 18, shown leaving the mother board 11, the power supply 13, or hard-drives 12 exit through the large rectangular opening 14 in the middle of the CPU enclosure front wall 15, as indicated above. Opening 14 in the enclosure wall 15 of the CPU enclosure covers opening 14′ when the flat drive bay is in the working position, so that the cables pass from CPU enclosure 20 to flat drive bay 40 through openings 14 and 14′. Cables exit the cable hinge center to travel either left or right through the large metal tubes 23 of the hollow hinge 31 to the drive bays, which are arranged side by side in flat drive bay 40. A removable interconnect access cover 33 snaps into place to cover the space between the hollow tubes 23.
Flat bay cover 26 has been removed to show openings 37, 37′, and 37″ (also called “cable access openings”) in the flat drive bay frame 38, which allow cables to be inserted into the back end of media drives in the flat drive bay slots. Cover 26 must be removed to expose the cable access openings 37, 37′, 37″ and allow cable installation. Similarly, removing cable access cover 63 of on outside drive bay 60 allows cable insertion into the back of that device.
In one embodiment of this invention, a mid-board interconnect assembly 90, with plated edges and solid ground planes prevents noise from leaving the inside of the CPU enclosure 20. Assembly 90, which is shown in opening 14′ in
The outer front side of the mid-board interconnect assembly 90 is accessed by removing cable access cover 33, as shown in
By lining up the cable connectors 91, 92 into a row in opening 14′, the cable hinge assembly 30 can slide up and down without connectors 91 hitting the top or bottom of the opening 14. Also, since the center of the cable hinge assembly 30 is located immediately behind the keyboard, easy access to all controls is enabled. The adjustable positioning of the flat drive bay and hollow hinge assembly put the controls into an ergonomic position for the user.
In an alternate embodiment of the invention the cables 16, 17, 18 pass directly through the opening 14′ to the back of the drive bay devices 37 mounted in the flat drive bay. In this case, a smaller circuit board is needed to mount the power switches 34 and access ports 36 at the top front 68 of the cable hinge assembly 30.
An EMC gasket 67, seen in
As seen in
The cable hinge assembly is comprised of a fixed base plate 32 which can slide up and down relative to the CPU enclosure 20, and rotating metal tubes 31, 31′ hingedly attached to the base plate 32 by lateral supports 97, 97′ and by medial supports 98, 98′. The hinge assembly has a base 32 that presents a top flat surface 68. Each hollow tube has 90 degree rimmed holes 99 that protrude into slightly larger holes in corresponding supports. The rimmed holes allow the metal tubes to stay captive and rotate around the holes in the supports, which share the same axis of rotation. The holes are large enough to allow the passage of cables to the hollow tubes 31, from where they can exit at openings 89 into the flat drive bay 40, or through the holes in the lateral supports 97, 97′ into an outside drive bay 60.
As seen in
A pivoting arm 84 is attached hingedly at one end to the base 32 of the hinge assembly 30. The other end is always pulled upward toward the center drive bay base 41 with an internal spring (not shown) to keep it flush against the bottom of the drive bay base 41. This second end of arm 84 is held in position by gravity pulling the flat drive bay down and into an overhanging lip 85 of sliding plate 86. Clamping the external sliding plate 86 into place prevents pivot arm 84 from moving and secures the entire flat drive bay 40 to the desired angle.
Preferably rails 51 and 52 can be directly mounted on the back of the desktop (table). Front and rear guide support brackets can be used to adjust sliding depth in the event that the depth of the desk is unknown and adjustment is required in front to rear depth.
The rail guide system may also be quickly installed by optionally inserting separate legs 57, 57′ into circular channels 121, 121′ which are formed out laterally from the 90 degree bent down walls of the rear guide support bracket 54. The leg height can be grossly adjusted with spring tabs that spring out of the top of legs 57 into holes 58. Fine adjustments can be made by rotating the screw-on feet 76 at the bottom of legs 57 and 57′. Small C-clamps (not shown) can also optionally be used to attach a front guide support bracket 53 to the desk at locations 59 and 59′.
The depth of the assembly can be adjusted for different size desks by sliding the rear guide support 54 to the front or back with respect to guide rails 51 and 52.
The cable clip 71 allows the installer to dress the cables (power, LAN, modem, monitor, speakers etc.) when the housing is in computer setup position, as discussed earlier. This cable management system also keeps cables out of sight and off the floor where they can tangle in the user's feet.
Another embodiment of this invention combines the keyboard 2 and the flat drive bay 40 into a single enclosure such that the keyboard is integrated into the drive bay.
Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments thereof, other versions are possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred embodiments contained herein.